Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov thanked Elon Musk on Twitter as deliveries of satellite internet equipment continue to arrive in the war-torn country.
“Received second shipment of Starlink stations,” Fedorov wrote Wednesday afternoon, sharing a photo of what appeared to be a tractor-trailer full of boxes branded with the SpaceX logo.
“You’re welcome,” Musk replied, adding that SpaceX also sent power adapters so the equipment could be powered by car lighters or battery packs in places where electricity isn’t available.
On February 26, two days after Russia launched its internationally condemned invasion of Ukraine, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that SpaceX’s Starlink service was operational in Ukraine following a request for Starlink stations by Fedorov. on Twitter the same day.
Fedorov shared a photo of a batch of Starlink gear two days later.
Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite internet network that uses thousands of satellites in Earth orbit to provide connection to paying customers.
Until recently, Ukraine’s internet service was generally reported as up and running despite Russia’s attack, although NBC said Wednesday that outages were becoming more frequent as Russian forces cut connections.
“Russia is likely targeting Ukraine’s communications infrastructure to reduce Ukrainian citizens’ access to reliable news and information,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a March 7 intelligence update. .
Starlink’s availability in Ukraine can provide a useful additional link to the outside world, but it’s not without its problems. For one, Ukrainians who want to use the service will need to get a Starlink satellite dish like the ones SpaceX is sending, but it’s unclear whether the amount sent will meet demand. Ukraine is a country with nearly 45 million inhabitants.
Additionally, while thousands of satellites are harder to take down than ground-based internet infrastructure, Starlink is not invulnerable.
In a March 3 tweet, Musk said the likelihood of Starlink being targeted by Russian cyberattacks was “high” and people should “use it with caution.” He also said the service is “the only non-Russian communication system that still works in parts of Ukraine.”
Musk later said that SpaceX had “reprioritized cyber defense” and Noted that some Starlink equipment near conflict zones was “blocked for several hours at a time”. He said software updates might fix the problem.
According to Space News, on March 7, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company was already working on implementing Starlink in Ukraine weeks before Russia’s invasion of the country and had been in talks with officials there.